In defense of Judas

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David

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In defense of Judas
Have we forgotten that the Eucharist was really for him (and for the potential Judases that we all can turn into)?

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally printed in “The Gospel of Mercy According to Juan/a” by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and Nina Tomen, published by St Pauls Publishing in 2016. Rappler is publishing this piece with permission from Bishop David and St Pauls Publishing for Holy Week 2018.

Some people forget that Judas was chosen personally by Jesus to be one of the 12 pillars of the Church! (If we can ascribe infallibility to the Pope, why not to the Son of God?)

They also forget that Judas eventually repented and, in fact, attempted to return the money to the chief priests before despair pushed him to take his life, according to the Passion story of Matthew (Mt 27: 3-5). 

When the Gospels say, “Satan had entered into Judas (Jn 13: 2; 14: 27),” they are actually being merciful. It is their way of saying that Judas was no longer himself at that moment, that he was under the spell of evil when he did his act of betrayal. 

In fact we should not forget that at the first Eucharist, Jesus broke bread and gave the first morsel to Judas (Jn 14: 26)! To say that that was not Eucharistic is to claim that Judas was beyond redemption! It is also to deny the power of God’s mercy.

Have we forgotten that the Eucharist was really for him (and for the potential Judases that we all can turn into)?

Thus, the priest says, to preface the words of consecration at Mass, that it was “on the night he was betrayed” that Jesus took bread and wine and offered them as His own body and blood, in anticipation of His act of self-oblation on the cross on Good Friday.

The Eucharist is really about Jesus’ conscious option to transform that night of betrayal into a night of forgiveness: “For this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS” (Mt 26: 28).

It was precisely at that moment that Jesus accepted the prospect of becoming the lamb for the new Passover, by whose blood sins would be forgiven – Judas’ included.

To the forgiven betrayer, I dedicate this piece:

(A biblical poetry on Judas based on Jn 13: 27-30) 

You left after you ate
that morsel of bread
dipped in the dish
by your beloved friend.
He had searched
in your eyes,
the way He did
when you showed up again
to kiss Him…
Those eyes…
that haunting look
that would pierce your soul;
a glance of forgiveness
before your dastardly
act of betrayal
could even be consummated… 

But what a pity,
you had read it
You walked half-dazed
into the stillness 
of that night…
a perfect portrait of despair
on that starry, 
starry night,
when demons rushed in
to drive you
into the ravine
of unspeakable treachery
For you had died
even before
you hanged yourself,
long before you held
those damned pieces of silver
in your wretched hands 


Judas betrays Jesus image via ShutterStock

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